The list below describes each of the datalayers and includes a link for free download and a link to a GIS viewer displaying the data.
NHESP Priority Habitats of Rare Species
Priority Habitat is the geographical extent of habitat for all state-listed rare species, both plants and animals, and is codified under the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act (MESA). Habitat alteration within Priority Habitats may result in a "take" of a state-listed species, and is subject to regulatory review by the Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program. With the support of MassGIS, the NHESP Priority Habitats and Estimated Habitats are now viewable through an interactive mapping program.
NHESP Estimated Habitats of Rare Wildlife
Estimated Habitats are a sub-set of the Priority Habitats that show the geographical extent of the habitat of state-listed rare wetland wildlife and is codified under the Wetlands Protection Act, which does not protect rare plants. Habitat alteration within Estimated Habitats that may result in a "take" of a state-listed species is also subject to regulatory review by the Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program. With the support of MassGIS, the NHESP Priority Habitats and Estimated Habitats are now viewable through an interactive mapping program.
NHESP Natural Communities
These polygons represent the extent of various natural communities of biodiversity conservation interest in Massachusetts, and are based on observations recorded and maintained within the Natural Heritage Database.
NHESP Certified Vernal Pools
This datalayer contains points for all vernal pools that have been certified by the Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program (NHESP) according to the Guidelines for Certification of Vernal Pool Habitat (MA Division of Fisheries & Wildlife, 2009).
NHESP Potential Vernal Pools
This datalayer identifies the locations of more than 29,000 potential, unverified, vernal pool habitats throughout Massachusetts.
BioMap: The Future of Conservation in Massachusetts
BioMap Core Habitat identifies areas critical for the long-term persistence of rare species, exemplary natural communities, and resilient ecosystems. Critical Natural Landscapes identifies large landscapes minimally impacted by development and buffers to core habitats and coastal areas, both of which enhance connectivity and resilience. These layers are now viewable through an interactive mapping program.
Contact for Natural Heritage GIS Resources
Open M–F, 8 a.m.–4 p.m. (closed noon–12:30 for lunch)
Southeastern Massachusetts/Cape & Islands